James Franco is Allen Ginsberg, poet laureate of the Beat generation, in this celebration of the work that captured a cultural moment and defined a literary scene. Academy-Award winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet, The Times of Harvey Milk) blend narrative, documentary, and animation to achieve a kaleidoscopic portrait of the man and his art. A recreation of the very first reading of “Howl” to a beatnik crowd at San Francisco’s Six Gallery in 1955 is juxtaposed with a simulated interview with the poet; brief dramatizations of Ginsberg’s life and loves are interspersed with scenes from the landmark obscenity trial that followed the publication of the poem. Dialogue taken verbatim from court recordings as well as transcripts of an interview Ginsberg gave to Life magazine provide insight into his time in a mental institution, his struggles with his homosexuality, and his determination to live and write with vital honesty. Throughout the film, hallucinogenic animated sequences by former Ginsberg illustrator Eric Drooker give brilliant visual life to the poem that pushed the boundaries of art to become one of the great poetic achievements in American literary history.